The Bray fighter defeated Victoria Noelia Bustos in New York tonight at the Barclays Center, dominating the Argentinian over ten rounds on the Danny Jacobs v Maciej Sulecki Matchroom USA undercard.
While it had been initially planned for Taylor to unify in Dublin this month, promoter Eddie Hearn chose to return to Brooklyn with the Olympic gold medallist and she put on an exciting display of both boxing and fighting, joining a select group of Irish unified champions in just her ninth professional fight.
The fight was Taylor’s third world title contest having won the WBA belt back in October with a win over another Argentinian Anahi Esther Sanchez before defending it less than seven weeks later versus American Jessica McCaskill
From Santa Fé, 29-year-old Bustos was fighting outside her home country for the first time. The experienced boxer had won the IBF title over four-and-a-half years ago, defending it five times as well as having an unsuccessful tilt at the WBC light welterweight belt.
While she was an immensely game opponent who enjoyed her share of success in the latter rounds, Bustos was no match for the Irish amateur legend who put on the best, so far, performance of her professional career.
Taylor began sharply, dominating the opening round and turning the head of Bustos with a sharp left hook.
Controlling the second, the Wicklow woman began to put together combinations with Bustos offering little back.
A succession of right hands found a home in the third stanza as the Taylor dominance continued. The South American did start to throw more shots as the round progressed but these were met with stinging left hook counters.
There seemed to be a conscious move on the part of Taylor to stay out of exchanges following her messy fight with McCaskill at the end of last year and, whenever she did find herself inside, the 31-year-old would unload a short flurry and get back out.
The right hands started to rain in in the fifth, visibly shuddering Bustos and coach Ross Enamait would instruct Taylor to up the pace as we entered the fight’s second half.
The feet did start to plant in the sixth and Taylor shifted her first meaningful shots of the bout but was still outlanding Bustos by a large number and a left hook in the closing seconds snapped the IBF champions head back to an almost horizontal degree.
More combinations landed from Taylor at the start of the seventh, with the left hook landing at will and repeatedly knocking back Bustos who, to her credit, continued to march forward and went toe-to-toe in the final thirty.
Bustos came out firing in the eighth, swinging wildly and catching Taylor with a big uppercut inside. Taylor elected to fight fire with fire, targeting the body in what was a gruelling round.
It was quieter in the penultimate round, understandably, but still more close-quarters than the earlier stages.
There was a sense that Bustos had run out of gas, however, the Argentine again came out bravely in the tenth. Taylor stood firm, pushing Bustos back and engaging in a phonebooth war which brought the crowd to its feet as the final bell rang out.
Going to the cards following a fight which began burning slowly before catching fire in the second half, Taylor was confirmed the winner and the unified WBA and IBF champion on scorelines of 98-92 and 99-91 twice.
Irish-Boxing.com scored the bout 99-91 in favour of Taylor who moves to 9(4)-0. The brave Bustos drops to 18(0)-5(0).
The win sees Taylor become Ireland’s third ever unified champion – and third in three years after Belfast duo Carl Frampton and Ryan Burnett in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
The driven fighter will now aim to continue chasing her goal of becoming the undisputed champion at lightweight, with WBC champ Delfine Persoon and WBO titlist Rose Volante in her sights as well as a long-promised, long-awaited Irish homecoming.
There was less success on the undercard, however, for Larry Fryers. The Monaghan light welterweight fought back bravely after taking an opening round standing count versus Russian dangerman Nikolay Buzolin but was stopped in the sixth and final round. ‘Lethal Larry’ falls to 6(2)-1(1).